I Love the Challenge!

Chickering & Sons Piano box circa 1917

In almost every aspect of my life, it’s all about the challenge and figuring out how to overcome it.  Makes no difference, it can be  a woodworking project, ultra-marathon  mountain race, personal goal or whatever — rising to the challenge is always satisfactory!  This box was a challenge put to me by the person that started it by offering their well used piano as a source of materials.  Things started out fairly easy as you can read about in this BLOG on the first project made from the materials. When I shared that blog with her it must have set her wheels in motion because a few days after that I was contacted with “the challenge”!

For background, every member of her family are serious musicians and they’ve probably all used this piano sometime in their lives.  She was wondering if a box could be made from it to store sheet music.  If you recall from the first blog, I was hoping to find boards of solid mahogany or walnut but discovered that it was primarily veneer over Poplar and in some areas Chestnut.  I salvaged what I could and ran it through my planer to remove the veneer.  When we met, she used the words “funky box” so I think this will fit that genre!  Sheet music is larger than the standard 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper.  She brought over some of that and our design collaboration began.  Lots of ideas were thrown out but the size of the paper determined the overall size of the box which is 4″ tall x 11 1/2″ wide and 14 1/2″ long.  One piece has the numbers 1301 stamped so I wanted to keep that at the front of the box as proof.  I discovered that the formed key covering piece seems to have been made from one piece of Poplar that was milled and then veneered.  This was cleaned slightly  but all of the original patina left intact.

The first step was to glue up some panels to make the top and bottom of the box.  For that I use Gorilla glue and my old school panel clamps.  The sides and back of the box were made from the Chestnut which has a nice grain pattern.  To keep with the “funky box” genre, they were finger-jointed and the front pieces have part of a tongue that remained after trimming them.  Finger joints are a very traditional way to join boxes together and the jig I made for the sliding table on my SawStop make them quite easy.

Since I also salvaged some of the Ebony keys from the piano they were turned into pegs to join the rabbeted top and bottom to the sides.  Assembly was done with Old Brown Glue, my favorite for dovetails and finger joints.  To keep it all authentic, part of the piano hinge and screws that once graced the piano itself was used for the lid.  The handles are some latches that probably held the top or bottom panel in place.  To secure those to the lid I used the piece of hardware I found at the end of each key where the piano wire was attached to.  After wet sanding in a few coats of Osmo PolyX oil the box was waxed and ready for delivery.

So there it is, 10-11 hours of work and a bit of head scratching to see how it would all come together but the challenge was met.  As of now,  the box hasn’t been delivered yet so don’t know what my clients reaction will be — I like it!



About woodworksbyjohn

I'm a retired woodshop teacher. I build one of a kind furniture pieces and custom picture frames. You can see some of my currently available work, boxes, carvings through my Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/WoodworksbyJohn?ref=si_shop Contact me about your project -- always up for the challenge of unique work.
This entry was posted in custom furniture, Design Process, Finger Joint Box, Recycled Wood Furniture, SawStop Sliding Table and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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